Soccer - Belgium can still win major title, says determined Hazard

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - LaLiga - Levante v Real Madrid - Estadio Ciudad de Valencia, Valencia, Spain - August 22, 2021 Real Madrid's Eden Hazard reacts REUTERS/Pablo Morano

TALLINN (Reuters) - Belgium captain Eden Hazard believes he and his team mates can still win a major trophy after failing to live up to their top ranking at the European Championship this year.

Belgium, who were third at the last World Cup in Russia, have been top of the FIFA rankings since 2018 but went out at the quarter-final stage at the Euros to eventual winners Italy.

"Can we win another tournament with the Red Devils? Yes, there is still a lot of talent in the team, with players who play at the best clubs in the world. Some boys are a bit older, but the youngsters are knocking on the door of selection. It is certainly still possible to find the right chemistry on the pitch," Hazard told a news conference on the eve of Thursday’s World Cup qualifier in Estonia.

Belgium will have a familiar look about their line-up in Tallinn in their Group E clash but with a few additions.

"The older ones can't play every game anymore. That's why we're now fitting in good young players. That's a good thing," Hazard added.

"If the young players do well, it will be easier for our generation to say goodbye.”

The 30-year-old Hazard, who has been plagued by injury over the last two seasons, also believes he can get back to his best.

"We are coming from a difficult period with the coronavirus and personally I also struggled with a lot of injuries. That was difficult for me to comprehend because I was never injured before. It was a mix of different things that made me unhappy but if the injuries leave me alone, I will still reach my top level.

"That's why I'm still going out on to the field with great enthusiasm. I lost two years due to injuries; I want to play again and regain the good feeling on the pitch.

"If the injuries leave me alone, I will certainly still reach my level. My qualities will always be there, I'm not worried about that, even if I may be a little less explosive. I just have to have the confidence that I can play without getting injured," he added.

Belgium top Group E with seven points from their opening three matches, three ahead of the second-placed Czech Republic, whom they will play at home in Brussels on Sunday.

(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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